It’s every girl’s worst nightmare: You’re sitting in your hairdresser’s chair, and suddenly, you no longer recognize yourself in the mirror. You glance at the picture of Jennifer Lawrence you brought, and you don’t look like her, either. As the stylist continues to trim and primp your hair, you’re dumbfounded, unsure what to say. You did not ask for this. Or you did ask for this, but now you realize your mistake. Too short, too boyish, too mom-ish, too ugly. You walk out of the salon feeling awful. Talk about a hairy situation.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! There ARE things you can do to salvage the situation—both while you’re still in the salon and after you get home. We talked to Benjamin Manista, assistant manager and art designer at Dino Palmieri Salon in Cleveland, Ohio, about what to do when you hate your haircut.
1. Stop the stylist
We know it can be scary, especially if you explained what you wanted and brought photos. But the number one way to prevent a bad haircut is to stop the stylist as soon as you’re not comfortable with what he or she is doing.
“Forget about the fact [that] you might hurt the stylist’s opinion,” Manista says. “Say, ‘I don't like what you did. Can you do something different?’”
Being as direct and as simple as possible will ensure your stylist gets the point. But remember to be sensitive! Hairdressers and stylists are artists, and they take pride in their work. They want to be creative, but more so, they want to please you.
“I would want you to stop me,” Manista says. “I was cutting someone's hair and she point-blank said to me, ‘I don’t want you to do anything else.’ I was shocked, but I appreciated the fact that she was willing to say she wasn’t satisfied.”
After your stylists stops cutting, reevaluate with him or her. State what you’re not digging, and see if there’s something he or she can do then and there to fix the problem.
2. Go back to the salon
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what your new hair is going to look like when it’s still wet or in the process of being cut or blow-dried. By the time you get home, though, or the day after (once you’ve washed your hair and tried to style it yourself), you may be really unhappy. The best thing to do? Go back to the salon.
“Let’s say you didn’t have a bad experience, but when you got home, it’s just not right,” Manista says. “Please call the salon and get it fixed! You might not be able to get in that day, but certainly give the artist the opportunity to correct the issue.”
Hairstylists want to make you as happy as they can! It’s absolutely no big deal to go back in the next day, or even several days later. Stylists won’t be able to magically grow your hair longer, but if you hate your layers or new highlights, he or she can probably fix it.
“We want you to trust us,” Manista says. “We want you to tell us you didn’t like it. I want you to tell me the bangs were too long!”
You should never have to pay for going back in, but Manista says you should go as soon as you’re unhappy. He recommends a two-week maximum on going back—otherwise, your hair will have grown, and by then it’s really a new haircut rather than a change to what was already done.
3. Wait it out
Easier said than done, we know, but unfortunately, waiting may be the only thing you can do to fix your haircut once you’re home from the salon and the cut is over, especially if you think it’s too short.
“Nature has to do its thing,” Manista says. “Hair grows from between a fourth to a half an inch a month, but it depends on the person.”
Manista recommends trying to forget about it—chances are you don’t actually look like Peter Pan with the pixie cut! You may learn to live with your new style, or you may forever hate it, but in any case, you’ll see length in about a month to six weeks.
4. Use a scalp-stimulating shampoo
Totally regret getting those inches cut? You’ll probably have to wait it out, but Manista recommends using a scalp-cleansing shampoo like Nioxin in the meantime.
“[Nioxin] cleanses the scalp [of toxins] that may block and stunt hair growth,” Manista says. “It draws blood to the surface, which will then help to produce hair growth.”
You can also try these tips for growing long, healthy hair. Healthy, undamaged hair is likely to look better and grow faster, too, so check out these tips for restoring unhealthy hair. This will help you move on from an unwanted hairstyle more quickly!
5. Embrace something completely different
Maybe you thought you wanted side bangs, but now that you’ve washed your hair and have tried to style it, you realize you hate the new look. Your stylist can’t magically grow your bangs out, but she may be able to suggest something different that you’ll like better.
Maybe side bangs look ridiculous—but perhaps full bangs will satisfy you, so try those during a follow-up visit. Think the short hair looks dumb? Go shorter—maybe a pixie cut will make you feel more Miley Cyrus than soccer mom. You might not end up with what you had wanted originally, but it may be easier to live with.
Ask your stylist for his or her creative opinion. Trust Manista when he says that stylists love to give their opinion! If there’s simply nothing else the stylist can do (or nothing else you’ll let him or her do), ask him or her how to style it to make the most out of what you have.
In the end, though, going back to your original hair will take time. Remember to never feel bad about telling your stylist you don’t like your haircut. It’s a customer-service relationship, which means stylists want to give you something you’ll love! However, keep in mind that your hair will always grow back, so your discomfort is temporary. You may even discover a chic new look in the process!